Although quinoa is considered a grain, it is actually closely related to leafy greens like beets or spinach. Regardless, quinoa is nutrient-rich, containing essential and nonessential amino acids, iron, magnesium, copper, and phosphorus.
Quinoa is especially beneficial for vegetarians and vegans who may find it challenging to consume enough protein. Aspiring flexitarians can use quinoa as a healthy substitute for animal protein.
Quinoa was once a hard-to-find "health food" but is now carried widely in supermarkets and natural food stores. Quinoa is available prepackaged in the rice aisle or in the bulk area. When buying in bulk, make sure there is no moisture in the bin and that the bin is covered with a lid. Store quinoa in a dry, cool place when you get it home.
Prepackaged quinoa usually doesn't need to be rinsed but bulk quinoa may need a rinse in cold water before cooking. Preparing quinoa is a simple process similar to cooking rice or pasta. Just boil it in water for 10 to 20 minutes (read the package or bulk bin directions) or until all the water has absorbed. You will know quinoa is finished when the seeds near translucence and a white spiral is visible extending out of each seed. Once cooked, quinoa has a slightly crunchy texture and a hint of lovely nuttiness.
Quinoa can be eaten for any meal of the day. It is especially filling as a hot cereal for breakfast combined with fruit or nuts. Quinoa can be tossed with vegetables, nuts and a light dressing for a chilled salad. Quinoa can even be a complete meal for dinner when combined with avocados, tomatoes, mushrooms, feta cheese, and nuts, or when tossed with diced cooked squash and beets, spinach, and figs. This tasty grain can even be made into a dessert-style rice pudding with bananas, raisins, a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar, and cream.
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